This Week's 5 Can't-Miss Book Events: For Rebels and Birdwatchers Alike
Animal Farm: 2013, 1998, 1954, 1946, 1879
Jen Kirkman: A fan of the Ramones, not children.
Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., free
This little piggy went to market. This little piggy stayed home. This little piggy wrote a politically charged parody a mere 14 delicate days after the 9/11 attacks and barely sidestepped legal action, but not without a menacing proverbial fist-shake by way of the Orwell estate. John Reed was just such a piggy. Snowball's Chance (Melville House), his controversial 2002 follow-up to George Orwell's Animal Farm, concerns what happens when one particular swine returns to the farm and takes over, preaching the word of unchecked capitalism. As part of Molasses's monthly lecture series, Reed will discuss the history/legacy of Orwell's novella, charting its influence across time and nations with fellow New School professor Nicholas Birns.
Friday, 8 p.m., $10
Sometimes, literature is the best place to confront the unseemlier questions of life. Or, in this case, death. Namely, who tried to steal Elvis's body, why did someone sever (pre- or post-mortem?) Galileo's middle finger, and just where is Descartes's head? Lovejoy's Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses (Simon & Schuster) is a cheerfully morbid compendium of all the noteworthy bodies laid to rest that, for some reason or another, never managed to stay at rest. At this release party, the author will present an illustrated lecture, touching on various forms of necro-obsession from holy relics to grave-robbing medical schools. Wine will be served to toast the departed.
Saturday, 8 p.m., $15
It's about time you properly meet Jen Kirkman, because chances are you already know her. She's a regular guest on Chelsea Lately, narrator of the "Drunk History" series, and has two stand-up albums and counting. Furthermore, we can't help but graciously appreciate how the title of her first book echoes what we've been reassuring our parents/selves for years. I Can Barely Take Care of Myself (Simon & Schuster) riffs on the mini-industry of family-rearing memoirs, insisting that no, we upwardly mobile anti-matrons will not eventually "change our minds" about the joy of having kids--essentially devoting our lives to small humans "with no language skills or bladder control." Drawing from her plentiful material about women who choose not to have children, Kirkman presents this hilarious defense against the social norm. Tonight she'll launch the book and perform her act with host Patrick Borelli and special guest Allison Castillo.
Made to Burn!
Sunday, 7 p.m., free
We're all for the kind of radicalism that sends a message and doesn't hurt anyone, whether its occupying Wall Street and wherever else, or just lifting a few grab-n-go rotisserie chickens from a dumpster in display of freegan solidarity. The authors on this panel have done all that and more. Each leads a life or writes work that delves into radical political territory--Rachel Kushner's new novel, The Flame Throwers (Scribner), follows Italian rebels on the 1970s art scene, while Justin Taylor's The Gospel of Anarchy (Harper Perennial) chronicles the rise and fall of an anarchist sect in Florida. Malcolm Harris, editor of The New Inquiry, was arrested as a protestor at OWS, and Joshua Clover, founder of the film quarterly Marx & Coca-Cola, formerly wrote for us under the pseudonym Jane Dark. They'll all rally for a special themed reading, discussion, and Q&A.
Brian Kimberling & Emily Temple
Tuesday, 7 p.m., free
For a novel that mainly concerns birdwatching, Kimberling's debut Snapper (Pantheon) is surprisingly un-boring. Conversely, it's not overtly metaphorical or whimsical in that Wes Anderson-y way either. The regional set-piece comes off like a sober but ardent love letter to the backwoods of Indiana, one that revels in reality's small moments. All the better. Kimberling, once a bird researcher like his protagonist, drew from his own experience to write the book. Tonight at the launch he'll talk about his knowledge of the avian world and his connection to Indiana with Emily Temple of Flavorwire.